FRESNO, (KSEE/KGPE) – A first-grade teacher at Garfield Elementary School in Clovis has earned the honor of KSEE24’s Educator of the week.

Mrs. Tamara Riley has been a teacher for more than 20 years. Her classroom was filled with joy and laughter when the KSEE24 News crew walked in with a $124 check to GW School Supply.

Her students cheered, “we love Mrs. Riley” as she was presented with the large check.

Mrs. Riley told KSEE24 she has been focusing on getting her students back to where they should be academically after some fell behind during the pandemic months of learning from home.

“We don’t know why they are coming a little behind,” stated Riley. “Whether parents weren’t able to have them in pre-school or they were working from home longer than expected. We’re not a hundred percent sure why. But, we just figure we don’t care where they came from we just want to get them to where they need to be.”

She played a big role in getting more funding for a reading specialist to work with the students who may need additional instruction.

Garfield Elementary has a large population of deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Riley uses a special microphone that hangs around her neck when she teaches.

Her voice then feeds directly to the students with cochlear implants and can also be amplified to the entire classroom through a speaker.

A hand-held microphone can also be used for the students to speak. She says the diversity in the classroom serves as a lesson for her first graders.

“It doesn’t matter how we are born or what we are given it’s just be accepting of all,” Riley explained how teaching elementary students are very rewarding.

“Every day I can see growth with a student,” said Riley. “Whether it’s ok I need to add this in a sentence or that in a sentence. So every day I feel like they are learning something. There is something they have figured out. So every day I’m like oh that happened. That makes me very happy. So that’s the passion. Every day I get happy because I know someone will learn something.”

Riley plans to use the GW School Supply gift certificate for items for her students.